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Graduate Program

Master of Science in Human Factors

Human Factors is the study of the interaction of humans with technology. Human Factors is sometimes also referred to as "Engineering Psychology" or "Ergonomics." This is a rapidly growing field with wide engineering and non-engineering applications. The program offers specialized courses, training, and research opportunities in the human-centered aspects of engineering activities such as: medical devices and systems design, product design, computer-interface design, ergonomics, and workplace safety.

Applicants are admitted to this program on the basis of their educational qualifications. It is expected that applicants to the Human Factors program will have an acceptable BS in engineering or science. Relevant course work and research experience may be considered for non-engineering students. It is strongly recommended that the prospective student identify and contact the potential thesis advisor before applying to the program. For further details please contact the acting program director, Professor Daniel Hannon. The Department also requires all applicants to submit their recent General Record Examination (GRE) scores. More detailed descriptions of all application requirements are provided in the Graduate School Handbook.

Requirements:
Candidates are required to complete the equivalent of ten (10) credits to graduate from this program. Full-time MS candidates generally complete their degree requirements in two academic years.

  1. Breadth of Technical Exposure (three credits)

    • ENP 162 Human-Machine Systems Design
    • ENP 163 Analytical Methods in Human Factors Engineering
    • Design Course
      • ME 102 Inventive Design
        or
      • ENP 161 Human Factors in Product Design

    Human Factors is an applied field of diverse engineering science fundamentals shaped by areas of application. The purpose of this requirement is to expose the student to the connections between the various sub-disciplines of human factors. Students are required to take the design course after the first semester. All core courses will have an analytical component that is taught as applied to the subject area, a project component, and a software component.

  2. Development of Analytical Capabilities (two credits)

    • PSY 107 Advanced Probability and Statistics I
    • PSY 108 Advanced Probability and Statistics II

    The ability to apply statistical analysis to the solution of human factors problems is central to this curriculum. To this end, all MS students are required to take the above courses in the first year.

  3. Focus Course Work (two-three credits)

    The remaining courses should be selected by students in consultation with their advisor(s). These elective courses should be relevant to thesis work, and must be at the graduate level (100 or above). The Department recommends a design course as part of the program of study. Taking courses outside of engineering and the sciences are exceptions in this program requiring departmental approval prior to registration; otherwise such courses will not be counted towards the degree requirements.

  4. Seminar (no credit)

    • ME 291 ME Graduate Seminar (fall semester)
    • ME 292 ME Graduate Seminar (spring semester)

    Regular attendance at Mechanical Engineering weekly Seminar Series is an integral part of full-time graduate studies. The seminars, held on Thursday afternoons, feature speakers from both inside and outside of Tufts. The seminars provide students and faculty with an opportunity to learn about the latest developments in mechanical engineering research and practice.

    All full-time human factors graduate students are required to register for the ME Seminar every semester. As part of this requirement, a student must pass the seminar course by attending at least 80% of the seminars in the semester. Students who pass the seminar will receive an "S" on their transcript; students who fail the seminar will receive a "U" on their transcript.

  5. Thesis (two-three credits)

    • ENP 295 MS Thesis (fall semester)
    • ENP 296 MS Thesis (spring semester)

    Preparation of a thesis representing an independent research work is a pivotal phase of the MS degree program. It provides the student with an opportunity to work on an open-ended problem, developing a particular solution that is not pre-determined and involving synthesis of knowledge and intellectual creativity. The thesis may involve an investigation that is fundamental in nature, or may be applied, incorporating theory, experimental testing or analytical modeling, and/or creative design. Through the thesis, candidates are expected to give evidence of competence in research and a sound understanding of the area of specialization involved. Students are also strongly encouraged to present their research at scientific conferences and publish the results of their thesis research in a peer-reviewed journal.

    Students receive a grade of Y (incomplete) in these courses as long as the thesis in progress. Eventual thesis grades replace the incomplete grades upon formal completion of the thesis. In order to receive a grade of Y for ENP 295/296, students must submit a thesis prospectus that outlines the area of work, thesis goals, proposed approach and a review of relevant past work in the literature before the end of the first semester in which the student enrolls in ENP 295/296, typically the third semester of full-time study. An example of a recent MS thesis prospectus can be found in the Mechanical Engineering office.

    Thesis normally counts as 3 credits towards the MS degree requirements. However, a student, with the approval of his/her thesis advisor, has the option to complete a 2 credit thesis by submitting a petition form to the Department. This petition must be signed by the student and the thesis advisor and will become part of the student's academic record. With a 2 credit thesis, a student must complete an extra graduate-level course (for a total of 8 courses) to fulfill the 10-credit requirement for graduation. This option is not typically available to those intending to pursue a PhD degree.

    The examining committee for master's candidates completing theses should be composed of three (3) members. The committee chair is normally a full-time, tenure-track faculty member. One committee member must be from outside the student's department.

  6. Degree Completion

    The MS thesis is completed upon a successful oral defense, open to the community, and submittal of an approved thesis to the Office of Graduate Studies. The thesis examination committee is composed of at least three members. It includes the thesis advisor, one technical expert outside of the Department, and a third member of the committee, often another faculty member in the Department. The student should consult Graduate Student Handbook for specific dates and deadlines for this process in the graduation semester.

    Degree completion and recommendation for the award of the appropriate degree involves a coordinated set of steps within and outside of the Department. In order to ensure completion of all the program requirements, a degree candidate should complete the MS Tracking Form.

    Special Note: As students complete the steps listed below, they should pay careful attention to the deadlines set by the Office of Graduate Studies for submitting a thesis and other degree related work to complete degree requirements in time for August, February or May degrees.

    Step 1: The first step in the process is filing the "Master's Degree Sheet" available on-line and also submitting the Graduate Exit Survey. The student fills out the degree sheet, obtains approval from his/her academic advisor, and submits it to the Department Chair for approval. The Department then sends the approved form to Student Services for processing and retains a copy as part of the student's record. Upon receiving of this form, Student Services places the student on the "Graduate Degree Listing" for the next degree awarding cycle (February, May, or August). Specific due dates for these forms are provided in the Graduate School handbook for the graduation year.

    Step 2: The second step in the process is scheduling and defending the thesis. The student, in consultation with his/her thesis advisor is responsible for selecting the date, the thesis committee and the required room reservation. Ask the department office staff for assistance. The thesis defense is a public presentation open to the entire community. In order to provide adequate time for publicizing this event, the student must inform the department of the impending defense in advance.

    A minimum of ONE WEEK before the defense, the graduating student must provide the department with the following information electronically (via email to Briana Bouchard).

    • Student's Name
    • MS Thesis Title
    • Date, Time, and Place of Thesis Defense
    • Committee Members and Affiliations including identification of thesis advisor(s)
    • 100-200 word Abstract

    In the interest of public presentation, this requirement is strictly enforced and no exception is granted.

    Step 3: Upon a successful defense of the thesis, the third step in the process is finalizing the thesis in accordance with the examining committee's recommendations. The thesis in its final form is submitted electronically along with the appropriate paperwork as per Graduate Student Handbook. The handbook also provides a detailed description of the thesis format and requirements.

  7. Degree Continuation

    • ENP 401-PT Part MS Time Continuation
    • ENP 402-FT Full MS Time Continuation

    Students whose research requires work beyond the semesters in which they are registered for MS thesis must register for continuation. A student must be enrolled at Tufts for every semester during the academic year until graduation; otherwise he/she will be administratively withdrawn from the University. A per semester continuation fee is assessed to students who require additional time over the expected completion period - two years for full-time masters programs. Tuition scholarship CANNOT be applied to this fee. An exception to this rule is when a student is granted a leave of absence. International students must have full-time status at all times. International students cannot take a leave of absence and remain in the United States.

    Marching Only Policy at Commencement: Engineering students are allowed to march at Commencement if they have only one lecture course credit remaining to fulfill all degree requirements. All thesis and project requirements must be completed and approved in order to be allowed to march in Commencement.